Judge Denies Request To Block Ind. Voucher Program

Critics Claim Measure Diverts Taxpayer Money To Support Religious Institutions

A judge has denied a temporary injunction that would have blocked Indiana's broad school voucher program.

Marion County Judge Michael Keele sided with the state of Indiana in his ruling Monday and against a group of teachers and religious leaders backed by the Indiana State Teachers Association.

They sought to block the measure passed this year by the Republican-dominated General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who is defending the state in the voucher lawsuit, called the ruling a victory for Hoosier students and families.

"While lawsuits challenging the exercise of state and federal government authority are not unexpected, the court's ruling indicates there is not an immediate need to halt the program and disrupt the start of the school year for these students," he said in a statement. "My office will continue to defend this new statute the Legislature passed in any future court proceedings."

The plaintiffs contend that the system that provides money to up to 7,500 students this year to private schools is unconstitutional because it diverts taxpayer money to support religious institutions and because it will undermine public schools.

A representative with ISTA told 6News the group is disappointed with the ruling and will spend the next several days developing a strategy moving forward.

Nearly 250 private schools were approved to receive vouchers, involving about 2,230 students. If the law stands, 15,000 vouchers would be made available next year.